Saturday, 13 May 2017

Frank Sinatra's 14th Farewell Tour

Wall Eye Tear Text, by My Dog Sighs

Do you realise that the time elapsed from the first Corn Poppy entry to this one is the same as the time elapsed between the release of Love Me Do and Sgt Pepper?

It is time for a rest.  The world doesn't need another White Album.

See you at instead.  All the way until the end of the year.

Here's a few pictures from earlier today, Southampton 13th May 2017.

This is like an old gig poster showing Jimi Hendrix supporting the Monkees.

Monday, 1 May 2017

tadger alert

As Tickleford Gully's annual Tadger Fayre gets into full swing let's take a moment to find out about the Tadger, the mythical figure whose behaviour is somewhere between that of a mischievous elf and Satan's older, meaner brother depending who you talk to.

The Legend of the Tickleford Tadger is older than the hills with the first reference being a well known cave painting at Lashskow Hill, one of the oldest pieces of art in Britain.

Cave painting of the Tadger, photo by Mick Reid

 Legends of the Trickster abound in all cultures.  He goes by many different names, Loki, Eris, Weasley, Livingrock Olatunde; he may be a fox, like Reynard, a raven or coyote, a bunnyman, Brer Rabbit or Bugs Bunny, Batman's Joker, Lear's Fool or Charlie Chaplin's Tramp.  His wrongs tend to be malicious rather than evil, often shining a light on the foibles of the powerful, the supposedly wise, the elite.  

There are many tales about the Tadger but as with other legendary figures like King Arthur, the Rose Queen and Robin Hood it is not clear which are true and which have been appropriated from other sources.  

There is a tradition amongst the locals that as you cross Tadger's Bridge you should take a moment to "salute the Tadger".   Those who fail to show respect to the Tadger, by failing to salute, usually suffer some misfortune, maybe not today, not tomorrow, but some day.

Another representation of Tadger appears on the river bank itself where Romano-Britons created his effigy by removing clay from the bank.  Each year the image is repaired, restored and renovated by the locals during the Tadger Fair, held annually on Mayday.

aerial photo of River Tickell from Time Team tv programme

it is widely believed that the Satan represented on the Louvin Brothers' 1959 album Satan is Real is based on the Tickleford Tadger

The Crickleford Woodcut pictured above has been dated between 1400 and 1475 (note the absence of cross hatching) although the bonnets suggest it may be later.  The Tadger can be seen disrupting the harvest, encouraging two of the farmhands to forget their duties.  

If you look closely Tadger can be seen in both these photographs, taken 20 years apart, one at St Titus Church, the other in the back garden of Spiro Constantine, retired European porn star, and his lovely family.  Shortly after the Constantine photo was taken the oak tree next door fell crushing the shed and destroying Spiro's much admired video collection.  This was variously attributed to a storm, the lorry which reversed into the tree, or damage to the roots caused by boll weevils but Spiro knew it was because he forgot to Salute when crossing Tadger's Bridge.

Two of Tickleford's pubs are named after the Tadger: the prosaic Tadger's Inn and the Lamb and Tadger.  Many of the myths surrounding Tadger relate to farming life, reflecting the pastoral nature of the village.  The lamb in question is said to have come to a sticky end after giving Tadger some lip about representing renewal, gentleness, tenderness and innocence.  Little Larry ended up as Herb crusted lamb chump, liquirice comfit lamb neck served with caramelised fennel, capers and "spice of angels".  

Although the youngsters of the village, with their hippity-hop, ram raiding and old spice cigarettes might not think much of the local legends some of the more senior residents still hold to the old superstitions and chalk a corn poppy beside their front doors to ward off the Tadger.

Every year since Time Out of Mind there has been a Tadger Fayre.  The programme of events has varied over the centuries.  At one time lambs were thrown into a pit of fire to appease the Tadger but that tradition has evolved into the Lambaqueue, with a lamb spit roasted to remind villagers of the importance of respecting Tadger.  There is maypole dancing with all its phallic symbolism, facepainting - another evolution, from masks and masquerades to washable face paint - the Rose Queen and her King, symbolising The Right Way of Doing Things and the ducking stool, a reminder for those who forget The Right Way.

In Ingoldsby's Tickledford Legend, published in 1842, the tale is recounted of Mary-Anne's capture by the Tadger.  The innocent Mary-Anne, nowt but a young girl, was bound by "wire as fine as mandolin string glittering in the sun, strong as an oxer whose fun is done " and kept in Tadger's Castle until her rescue by Bloody Jack, or Broody Jack, sometimes Blobby Jack, sometimes Bloudie Jack, occasionally Onyer Jack.

The wire is as thin as a thread, Bloody Jack
The wire is as thin as a thread
Though slight is the chain
Again might and main
Cannot rend it in twain

Bloudie Jack, Thomas Ingoldsby

Each year the story is reenacted at the Tadger Fayre,right down to the part where Mary-Anne, aided by Jack, escapes down the tower by tying one end of the unbreakable wire to the window frame and then climbing out the window, round and round the tower, shedding the wire as she went.  Poor Jack was cut to pieces, hence his nickname Bloody Jack.

there's the world as it is 
and the world as we want it to be

All credit for photos to Mick Reid
unless otherwise indicated
and 1954 posters, from the author's private collection

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Its a bitsa

Mellow down Pussycat

Sense of Harmony

By the by

graveyard disposition

Ain't nobody here but us chickens

School's out

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Good Old Days

Understanding the past is easier if you have a reasonable grasp of the commonly understood epochs of history.

If you're a creationist it is much easier.  First there was In the Beginning, then Biblical Times and now the Final Days (which have lasted 2000 years so far).

But you're probably not interested in the same history as the rest of us.  I'll remember you in my prayers.

Paleolithic  500,000 BCE - 8,000 BCE  early stone age
Mesolithic      8,000 - 4,000 BCE       mid stone age
Neolithic     4,000 - 2,500 BCE    late stone age 
Bronze Age   2,500 - 700 BCE  time out of mind
Iron Age      700 BCE - 43    antiquity
Romano-British     43 - 410      ancient times
Early Medieval  410 - 1066     Annals of history
Late Medieval   1066 - 1485   in the chronicles
Post Medieval    1485 - 1800    days of yore
Early Modern      1800 - 1945    days of old
Modern Eon      1945 - 2017     The Good Old Days
The Future                 2018 onwards         

The Early Modern period can be further subdivided as follows
Bygone days
 Bygone days of yore
 Golden days of yore
 Days of awe and wonder

 Days of yore

the Good Old Days 



Not to mention the Olden days, Days gone by, Auld lang syne, Thou unrelenting past and finally the most annoying one - Back in the day

Dancing in the Tractor

It is a common misconception amongst non-historians that national events (like a new king or, even, being invaded) had much of an effect on common village folk in times gone by.  Movement was so limited and communication so slow that years might pass before people in a place like Tickleford would hear that William had Conquered or that the Duke of Normandy had married Eleanor of Aquitane.  It really didn't make a lot of difference to whether the crops thrived that year or if the fish would be jumping in summertime.  There may be a new lord of the manor but "the world looks just the same and history ain't changed and the banners they are flown in the next war" as the 12th century ballad (author unknown) has it.

The same was true of rock and roll.  Elvis made no impression on Tickleford, Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran didn't include Tickleford Memorial Hall on their frequent tours of Britain and no-one rated Cliff much at all.

Obviously The Beatles and The Rolling People had more of an impact as television and radio brought their long haired shenanigans to even the most obscure backwater.  Still, the residents of Tickleford felt as connected to Paul McArtrey and the Glimmer Twins as a medieval peasant did to the aforementioned Eleanor.

This all started to change when a real live Pop Group did include Tickleford Memorial Hall on a 1963 tour.  It only happened because the Sixpenny Handley Village Hall had double booked and no-one was going to tell the 6d WI that they couldn't have the hall that evening.  Flailing around for a venue that had nothing booked on a Saturday night the promoter found the Memorial Hall and so Tickleford had one night rocking to the sound of the Barron Knights.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Truth be told it was sparsely attended but it is said that everyone who did go went away afterwards and formed a band.  These included Rick Reid who formed Rainbows Over Wessex, a kind of proto-Wurzels who managed to get a deal with a Decca subsidiary.  Their album Aggro Culture was released late in 1966 featuring the following crowd pleasers: 
Side one: Aggro Culture, Threshing in the Machine, What's Your Beef, Pasture Prime, Harvest for the World (cover)
Side Two: Boozin' at the Bull Bar, Pig Sick, Furrowed Brow, Not Furlong, Hey Wayne Hey Rick (instrumental featuring duelling banjos style work-out between Rick Reid on mandolin and Wayne Cramer on fiddle).
The band are still playing the circuit although it is now the grandchildren of the original line-up who spend every Friday and Saturday evening entertaining the Young Farmers and WI.

Another band who formed following that memorable Barron night was Dancing in the Tractor.  These lads (and one girl) were from the other side of town.  The side who knew where the magic mushrooms were.  Lead guitarist River Cole was quoted as saying
"May 5th 1963,  Barron Knights play Tickleford Hall for the first time, instantly galvanise us into ACTION!"   
In fact, it took a little while for the galvanising to occur; a combination of mushrooms, cider, musical differences, O levels (or, in the case of the drummer Bryan "Sticks" Rix, CSEs), lack of musical ability, lack of musical instruments conspired to keep Dancing in the Tractor at the ideas stage for the next 12 months.  This turned out to be fortuitous.  By the time they started gigging seriously mushrooms, cider, musical differences, an O level education (and, in the case of a drummer, CSEs) and lack of musical ability together with borrowed instruments made the 'Tractors (as they were known to their growing fanbase) darlings of the burgeoning Psychedelic Scene.

Tarantula was their debut album, released on 1st June 1967.  The Tickleford Times compared it favourably with Sgt Pepper, released that same day, suggesting it was the flip side of the twee Establishment fodder the Beatles were offering.

It bombed.

It bombed at the time, selling no more than a few dozen copies but has been rereleased each decade since.  The 2016 vinyl box set version complete with facsimile singles, posters, outtakes and a keychain retailing at £157.99 is the latest.  It bombed.

Will Sergeant of Echo & the Bunnymen" called it a "Lost Psych Classic".  Blur borrowed a riff or two from it.  Kylie's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" owes an awful lot to album opener "Can't Get It Out Of My Head"

Side One:  1.  Can't Get It Out Of My Head, 2. Leaf Hound and the Lonely Crowd,  3. Kaleidoscope of Monkeys, 4. Magick Kat's got the Cream, 5. Milk and Honey, Shrooms and Cider, 5. The Modern Art of Being Yourself
Side Two: Purple Haze/Blue Green Daze (Freeform Freekout) 
A footnote to history:  Former Tractors bass player Doris Storm is currently Mayor of Tickleford

cover design by Mick Reid, 1974

Dancing in the Tractor's Tarantula album was rereleased for the first time in 1974 on Cereal Records with sleeve notes by Lenny Kaye.

original cover design by Doris Storm, 1967

Dancing in the Tractor's Tarantula album was rereleased a second time in 1982 on ParlourPhone with sleeve notes by Julian Cope.  Original cover restored.

cover design by a lad in the office who got an Apple Mac as a graduation present, 1997

Dancing in the Tractor's Tarantula album first appeared on CD in 1997 on the Argyle & Southern imprint with sleeve notes by Damon Albarn.  The track order had been unnecessarily shuffled and the single version of "Leaf Hound" used instead of the album version.  Fans felt that the sound quality "sucked" with the drums sounding shonky.

cover design by Right 23, 2004
Dancing in the Tractor's Tarantula album came out again in 2004 with sleeve  notes by Luke Haines. He slagged it mercilessly, except for the original album cover paintings which he said he "quite liked".

cover design by Pitt Rivers

Dancing in the Tractor's Tarantula album had The Works treatment in 2016, with a box set of 3 LPs on purple, blue/green and yellow vinyl, five singles plus paraphernalia including a keychain, a poster designed by someone who knew Haphash's work, a ticket for a gig with Pink Floyd headlining and Dancing in the Tractor supporting (nb, Pink Floyd didn't turn up so the 'Tractors played twice) and a 64 page four-colour book bringing together all the sleeve notes from previous rereleases.

One LP ( the purple album) was the original album restored to its correct running order; the second (the blue/green album) was a collection of outtakes and cover versions and the third (the yellow album) featured forty minutes (across two sides) of Purple Haze/Blue Green Daze/Yellow Phase clipped from a three hour jam.  At the end you can hear singer River Cole quipping "you should hear our version of  Watchtower."